Our first stop was the Cathedral in Santiago. It was not open, but were able to take pictures outside. A selfie was in order for this particular moment. Next it was off to buy souvenirs. It was a space crammed with multiple vendors. Charlie and Emily helped us to negotiate prices, so I think we got some good deals. We hopped back into the van and went over to the Monument in Santiago that is dedicated to heroes of the country. It was here that we learned a little bit of history about the country. Many of us walked up the winding stairs, 132 according to the count from Sue, to get a view of the city. After the monument, we headed off to the Supermarket to find food.
We are off to a great start here in the Dominican Republic. Yesterday, we arrived at our hotel in Santiago after a long car ride and met our interpreter, Emily. The hotel and the rooms are nice, very simple. The one surprise was a TV. After some time for rest – it had been a very early start the day for eveyone – we ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. We were served a variety of food; all of it was very good! There were fried eggplants, fresh tomatoes, beans, avocado, and plantains. After this was a main course with a few items to choose from. By the end our bellies were full and we were all ready for bed.
On Saturday, we gathered for breakfast. Again, another delicious meal at the hotel restaurant. Eggs and toast, ham and veggies. Oh, and most important is the coffee! Cafe es muy importante en la manana! After breakfast we met our guide for the day, Charlie. He was quite a character, but an wonderful addition to our group, extremely helpful and informative, as we traveled around the city.
The supermarket, La Sirena, was very much like a Walmart. We had lunch in the food court, which continued the trend of really good food. Then a little bit of shopping was in order. This was where we found candy, coffee, and other goodies to take home. The trip ended with ice cream that hit the spot. It was then off to a museum.
We lucked out because it happened to be a free entry day. We spent about an hour in the museum, looking at artwork from various Dominican artists. Vendors selling really amazing art and jewelry were set up all around the museum. There was an aviary too, which if you know me at all, I avoided at all costs. It turns out that this was one that you did not go inside. Still, I kept my distance. One thing that some of us did not completely think through in our purchases at La Sirena was the chocolate. Having been left in the van for over an hour, it had completely melted. It basically had become chocolate syrup. Oh well, it will solidify at some point – likely when we return home.
It was back to the hotel for a break and dinner. As usual the food was very good. We were even treated to lemonade with our meal. After dinner, we gathered on the roof of our hotel for evening prayer. I absolutely love doing this. It is a nice way to wind down the day. During this time, we were also given some time to reflect on the day. There was a lot of really good reflections contributed and it’s only day one!
I have to say that this is a really great group to be traveling with. Ten is the perfect number for something new, but a head count is always needed to ensure everyone is accounted for. I look forward to working with our diocesan team, as well as the people we continue to meet. I also look forward to sharing more as the week progresses.
Missy Greene, Christian Formation Associate, St. Stephen’s, Fairview